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Hopkins gives Watson, other Tigers advice to succeed in NFL

Since Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s head coach in 2009, Clemson ranks sixth nationally with 38 players drafted into the NFL.

Last year alone, the Tigers had nine players selected in the NFL Draft, the most ever in one draft for the Clemson program since it went to seven rounds in 1992.

One of the 38 players selected since the 2010 draft is current Houston Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who was the Texans’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft at No. 27 overall. Like quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Wayne Gallman and wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, Hopkins entered his name into the draft following his junior year.

Hopkins, who earned an All-Pro selection in 2015 as well as played in the Pro Bowl, told Texans Radio earlier this month he has grown a lot in his football career since those days when he was catching passes and breaking records in Death Valley.

He hears all the scrutiny surrounding Watson as well as some of the other former Tigers who are prepping for the draft. Hopkins used the comments that were said about him during the draft process to fuel his workouts and get himself ready for the NFL.

Scouts noticed it too, as he improved what was a second-round grade to a first-round pick, proving he made the right decision to leave Clemson a year early.

The best advice Hopkins says he can give a player like Watson as well as all the others who are prepping for the draft is to just study the game.

“Now that I became more of a student of the game, I know there’s more to football than just throwing it up to a player,” he said. “A quarterback has a lot of reads to make. It’s not just that simple as throwing it up to a guy.”

Hopkins says Watson probably has the biggest challenge of all because of how difficult it is to master the quarterback position in the NFL.

“Man, I don’t play the quarterback position but if I could give him any advice about coming to the NFL, it would be to just master the game of football,” Hopkins said. “At that position, that’s probably the hardest thing, just mastering football. Not so much being able to make that throw or any throw you can make. He knows he has the arm to make it, but it’s the small things that go into it, not just him going out there and throwing the football.”

For Watson, that’s where he has exceled in his career. The two-time Heisman Finalist is known for his study habits and how prepared he is when comes to meetings. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Watson would come to Monday’s meetings with a whole list of questions and concerns about the next week’s opponent.

“He is always prepared,” Swinney said.

And according to Hopkins, that’s one of the things Watson is going to need to continue to do if he wants to succeed in the NFL.

–Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY

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